Review: Cause Marketing Through Social Media

Kate Olson and Geoff Livingston have released a free e-guide to Cause Marketing Through Social Media that should be on the virtual bookshelf of every cause marketer's library. You can bet it's on mine. Kate and Geoff's approach to online cause marketing is comprehensive and unique. Yes, I talk about online cause marketing here on SG, but my focus is generally on online programs that are an extension of traditional offline cause marketing. Good stuff, but Kate and Geoff treat social media as a unique platform for cause marketing. And a very new one at that. That's why I'm learning from them just like all of you.

While the e-guide is geared toward companies, a lot of it applies to nonprofits as well. Here are just a few of the points that resonated with me.

Have you cultivated an online community? So many of us want to do online cause marketing, but do we have the engaged online community to support it? It takes time to turn a fan base into a community that responds to calls for support and action. This is something that came up last week with The Ellie Fund and It's not enough to just put something out there on the web. If you launch an online cause marketing program but no one is there to interact with it, will it make a difference?

Kate and Geoff use the example of Pedigree Adoption Drive, which has over a million Facebook fans. When Pedigree whistles for its fans they respond because their community is present and engaged.

Can you sell the campaign in your company [or nonprofit]? The e-guide has an excellent section on selling online cause marketing to the boss, including starting with a small pilot project to get the green light on bigger projects. Kate and Geoff also offer some valuable responses to common objections to cause marketing programs. One objection I would add--because it still comes up a lot--is "Do we really need to be involved in cause marketing?" Fortunately, we have recent and powerful evidence to support our case thanks to the Cone 2010 Cause Evolution Study, which shows the value of cause marketing, especially for key consumers likes millennials and moms.

What campaign format will deliver the most social and business impact? This section is useful because it's like taking a class: Online Cause Marketing 101. From Crowdsourced Voting Contests to Issue Awareness Campaigns, you get definitions and examples of the most popular online campaigns.

Case Study: Tyson Foods Hunger Relief. Toward the end of the e-guide, Kate and Geoff profile the online cause marketing program Pledge to End Hunger/WeCanEndThis that my friend and fellow cause marketer Scott Henderson developed.

This program is especially important for local nonprofits and businesses because it had:

  • Online and offline features, a likely direction for local nonprofits and businesses.
  • In-kind contributions of food to needy areas around the country, illustrating that not all campaigns need to involve money, but they must address a need and have value. This should inspire organizations of all sizes that they can make a difference and help in variety of ways.
  • An important message for businesses of all sizes: check your ego at the door and put the spotlight on the cause. The reflection directed back at you will be worth the wait.

These are just a few of the things I found compelling about Kate and Geoff's Cause Marketing Through Social Media. You should read the e-guide for yourself.

With plenty of sidebars, graphs and illustrations, this 26 page e-guide is an easy read and a great reference to what surely will be the next great frontier of cause marketing.